Samantha Ogrodnik’s Grade 6 and 7 students at L’École Phoenix were learning about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child this year.
Despite its message of respecting and honouring children’s rights being a positive one, what they learned through their study of the subject was bothersome.
“When they learned that some children’s rights around the world are not respected, that upset them,” Ogrodnik says. “So I gave them a challenge and asked, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’”
The result was astounding, she says. The kids formed groups and started working on “Compassion Projects” focused on building awareness and raising funds to support the efforts of various organizations around the world who are fighting for these children’s rights.
Like Grade 7 students Ashton Bruining, Delaney Ewing, Shea Watson, Taylor Ring and Davis Gage, who learned that there are young girls all over the world who were not receiving an education – which they say is something that girls in our society take for granted.
“There are approximately 66 million girls around the world who are denied access to schooling,” the girls told the class during project presentation day, so their idea was to raise money to send one of those girls to school through an initiative they found through their research called Malawi Girls on the Move (malawigirlsonthemove.com). They raised $1,857, which they say covers one girl’s schooling for two years.
The group of Gwenael Chabot, Dominic Bakota, Ruby Mooney and Eora Umemura realized that there are kids out there whose right to healthy, nutritious food is not respected, for various reasons. They set up a bake sale and played music at the Quadra Farmer’s Market and created a website to raise money for Canadian Feed The Children and were able to purchase beekeeping training and startup equipment, invest in teacher training, classroom furniture and school supplies for people in third-world countries.
Some students focused their efforts closer to home.
Natasha Sutherland, Avery Sorensen, Olivia Fagan, Tegan Wheeler, Leah vanDompseler, and Milei Stewart, for example, had a bake sale and freezie fundraiser to raise money for gift baskets for the homeless and children living in poverty right here in Campbell River and delivered them to the Salvation Army Community Lighthouse Centre on Cedar Street.
Emilie Diemer, Madison Puglas, Sierra Falconbridge, and Lindsay Eidsvik kept their fundraising efforts focused on the local area, as well. Their fundraiser was to raise money for the Summer Art Program through Campbell River Family Services.
But who the children chose to support with their efforts was less important than the fact they felt they needed to get involved somehow, Ogrodnik says.
“It’s really wonderful when you see the kids wanting to step up and do something to help when they learn about injustice or social problems,” says Ogrodnik. “They’re very proud of themselves for making a difference, and I’m proud of them for wanting to.”